Friday, March 24, 2017

Tangible, Visible Evidence

Ephesians 3:14-16 "For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in Heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man." 

A question was asked of me, of others this week, "how have you seen a visible, tangible, representation of God--His Holy Spirit dwelling in you?

When I opened my spiritual eyes, recognized my wretchedness before God,  my own sin, then responded to His calling, His open arms and smiling face, I received His Holy Spirit. In that moment of surrender, of knowing I am in need of His mercy--that intimacy between myself and His Spirit recreates a miracle and the connection to His Holy work, that which He willed for my life. This is a constant prayer, "Lord, Your will, not mine." The spiritual becomes the tangible in changed lives, changed desires, changed conversations, changed hopes and new dreams. It also allows a unique perspective, to see more of God in every thing, no matter how random, how insignificant, how worthless the world might judge. That is Holy Spirit.

Everyone sins, misses the mark of perfection and thus, separated from the Holy, (Romans 3:23). At first I just knew from what I was taught-- God made me, and that His Son, Jesus, died for me and that God is Love. If I believed that, I would go to Heaven one day and live there forever. Of course, when you are nine years old, that seems pretty reasonable, simple. God whispered in my ear, "I love you, will you love Me back?"

"Yes," I answered. God came into my heart by means of asking for forgiveness and receiving the Holy Spirit. Can I explain that at the age of  nine? No, but I knew I belonged to Him that day. Serving Him has always been important to me as I studied His Word and served in various ministries. In all this time, some 50 plus years later, the Holy Spirit navigates my steps to a deeper relationship with Him. Have I spent some time being idle, drifting? Yes, I have gone down wayward roads and sat for too long on the bench for the luke warm, watching but not participating. He calls me back and convicts my heart, leading me into His grace and fellowship. I know and recognize that God dwells within me in the form of the Holy Spirit. I didn't need a bunch of classes, a party or a ceremony to know that, to experience His indwelling in me. My prayers for more of Him, my proactive trust--enough. My growing faith in story--evidence, tangible and visible.  And then there are those goose bump moments. That IS Holy Spirit.

We all want to test the world, and we all wander, striving, curious humans we are. When God keeps ringing your spiritual phone of your heart, and He hears busy signals or hang-ups, or just no answer at all...but He persists by sending certain people and certain circumstances and signs--that is tangible Holy Spirit.

When  placed in a compromising situation or have to make a choice and most say one thing, but your heart is saying another, you are feeling that voice of discernment giving you strength--that is Holy Spirit.

When one longs for their mom, sister or brother,  spouse, the kids, best friends, the neighbors, to walk along side you in this journey, seeking growth and knowledge, wisdom and blessings, hope and purpose, pure fellowship of His goodness---more of Him, --that is Holy Spirit.

When you are called to a ministry you never thought possible, to leadership positions and opportunities no one would have placed you in, when scripture comes alive and is always applicable to your situation and prayers, when you have the constant desire to be in His Word, fellowship with His people and seek Him through your trials and adversity--that is Holy Spirit.

One day, my mind and heart crashed and melted. Grief-stricken, drained and depleted from my own thoughts and words, God took over. His Spirit activated a palpable, tangible love on me and began the process of showing me how to lift my head again. I look up and I look back... and I know His grace. His promises I find within me, even more intense than before,  guiding me to His purpose. Part of His healing plan, He stirs and sieves the brokenness, replacing it with Hope. It is tangible, like a frown becoming a smile--that is Holy Spirit.

He lifted my head, to see not one, but dozens of swallowtail butterflies coming down from the trees filtering my grief-filled prayers up to Heaven. They surrounded me in the Light of a new day and a different life, but a hope-filled life. Ten years later, another single, transformed butterfly of the same genus, a swallowtail, lands on my windshield as I am stopped at a light and dances across to my driver's side, constantly fluttering, encouraging me and loving me, a tangible reminder that His Spirit, the Holy Spirit dwells in me and I recognize and feel  LOVED as tears flow. The radio plays Chris Tomlin at that very moment--and that is Holy Spirit, and that is God!

There's a place where sin and shame are powerless.
Where my heart has peace with God and forgiveness.
Where all the love I've ever found.
Comes like a flood,
Comes flowing down.

At the CROSS, that is tangilble, visible in my heart. Hallelujah! 

The butterfly is not something to be worshipped, for it too is temporary, a manifestation of His beauty in creation, but scripture reminds us in Romans 1:19-20:

...because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and devine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 

and in Luke 19:40  "And He answered and said, "I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!"

Father God, thank You for my salvation and that I know and want more than just the promise of Heaven. Your Holy Spirit was sent to believers so that we can participate in the Holy and receive Your power and strength. You saved me so that I may glorify Your name! What a privilege to be called to Your Plan, to find my own purpose within the gifts You have given me and the discovery of so much through fellowship and Your Word. Because Your Holy Spirit dwells within my soul, my Helper, Strength-giver and Inspirer, I can accomplish mighty things for Your Kingdom, for Your glory, in that I am awed and humbled, thank You Lord. Holy Spirit, thank You for hearing my long prayers, my simple prayers, my utterances and all my thoughts towards wanting Your Will and even those words and thoughts not aligning with Your Will. In that, You bring about Your discerning wisdom and lead me to better places and/or bring about obedience which leaves tangible evidence, for Your glory. Thank You Lord for Your prompts to pray, to listen, to watch and to wait. Thank You Lord for giving me Hope. As I have told my story, some have said to me, "I don't see God like you do..." Oh, Lord, I know that they can, if only they take the time to humble themselves, be authentic before You, asking You for that gift You left for us, Your Holy Spirit, God dwelling within us and among us. God, You so loved the world, every one of us can know You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit--You are welcome here. Amen.


                                           FRANCESCA BATTISTELLI ~  HOLY SPIRIT

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Greater Grace

Psalm 86: 12-13  "I will give thanks to Thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and will glorify Thy name forever. For Thy lovingkindness toward me is great, and Thou hast delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol." 

I said goodbye to a collegue, a man whose friendship I treasure and whose wisdom and grounding in Truth encouraged me at work. He retired. Bon voyage, Art. I will miss your greetings across campus, "How ya doin' Sis?!" Grace is made greater when friendships are centered around His faithfulness.

I honored a classmate's passing; again cancer rears its ugly head and wins the earthly battle, but eternity is a victory. I didn't know him in school, yet I knew him in what we shared; God, classmate friends, family love, a neighborhood and The Dodgers. RIP Alan.  I now have two new friends, your son and daughter. Grace is made greater when we can serve one another.

February 27th this year fell on Monday. Ten years ago, it was on a Tuesday. Myself, my husband and my youngest son received the heart-breaking news that our oldest son, our brother, did not survive the clutches of a deteriorating disease he suffered with most his life. He was only 26. His name is Timothy. Grace, my emulsion, my strength, my soul-giving breath continues to guide me and strengthen me to understand a God who is great, a God who is good. Even in the darkest of times, God's grace is greater.

In my time with my writing group this week, our prompt for our journal session was to write about grace, its impact on our life. Well, I kidded with the my writing partner who penned this particular opening segment of our curriculum...

"I wrote a whole book already on that subject!"

She laughed along with me, knowing that "grace" in itself, is what we all write about in every word we attempt to put together to makes sentences, to explain our insignificant lives--but how He in His grace set upon and in us, changes us. He makes us significant and continues to do so.

So, I wrote and in my "not allowed editorializing" before I shared my words, I stated that this might just be the beginning of another book of my amazing moments with God who so lovingly shows me His care of my heart concerning the loss of my son. His visible grace I received on a day marking a 10-year anniversary and I serve a God who lavishes lovingkindness on me and delivers my soul in a very clear yet personal way. So Amazing. So thankful. So Good.


Dylan. He is 20 now, so that would make him 10 years old when we first moved here, just 5 short months after Timmy died. We shared this townhouse, his family on the other side of our common wall.  Dylan and his brother Jordan came over frequently, to love on us and share with us. Their mom and dad, Raul and Ronda became like family.We felt for the first time in many years like we were "home." That was so God. He graced us with this home, orchestrating this place...these neighbors, so we could settle in, so we might grieve surrounded by His care and love. It DOES come generously in His servants.We love those two boys, and I believe God placed us here, next door to the Zavaletas for His purpose and comfort.

So now, ten years later,  my husband and I plan a half-day at Disneyland, dinner somewhere--just be together to remember the day Tim went to heaven. It rained, poured hard all the way to the Park, but stopped as we parked following the car in front of us. We merged from our vehicle as the occupants next to us do the same--Dylan, and his girlfriend, randomly parking right next to us in the biggest parking lot in the country. After the laughs, selfie-taking, and chit-chat, they went on their way and we did the same. I felt God...I heard God say to me...

"Remember...not just Timmy, but how I chose to bless you, give you comfort in your grief. I moved you to a better place, a good place, and surrounded you with love. Dylan is that reminder, of 10 years in your home and 10 years of seeking Me and allowing Me to love you and show you My glory." 

I knew we would have a good day.

We chose ESPN Zone to have dinner, a place represented by sports, fans and good food, three things my son loved. The server walked us to a booth right in the middle of the restaurant with a clear view of the huge TV, the LA Kings skating against the Minnesota Wild. Ted and I ordered and as I enjoyed a glass of wine, I read the scrolling trivia atop the screen, the "Did you know" questions and answers zipping by as the defense and offence slashed across the ice below.

"Did you know that Barry Bonds holds the home run record of 762 runs in his career? 

As a matter of fact, I DID know that, because a chapter in my book recollects that moment he hit that ball, achieved that record the summer we moved, the summer right after Tim's death...the summer I thought a lot about heaven.

Then those dates scroll along...1954-1980.

I have to wait another 10 minutes for the board to repeat itself so I could see those dates again. Those dates...get its content. I knew what they meant to me.

1954, the year I was born. 1980, the year Tim was born.

..."but he does not hold the world record. That is held by Sunahara Oh, a Japanese player who out hit Barry Bonds by 160 home runs in a career spanning from 1954-1980."

I take a picture on the next loop with my cell phone.

Later that night, I would ask my husband, Ted, what he thought that meant--seeing those two dates, those years on that screen as we were "celebrating" a heavenly birthday. Ten years of hearing from God and receiving His grace and comfort in so, so many significant and amazing ways--I am always the one to interpret, to know the meaning, to ponder and recognize.

But not this time. I asked Ted, not even trying to analyze it. I asked the father of our son to tell me what Our Father meant by showing me those dates.

"God's showing you the bond between a mother and a son, that He understands and knows you miss him. You and Timmy--together, forever."

(Did he know he used the word "bond?"...that was unintentional, right)?

God is so Good. His lovingkindness towards me is great! Greater than a huge parking lot with thousands of cars and people. Greater than cheering crowds and professional hockey players and broadcast capabilities. Greater than Disneyland and rain storms and home run records!

His lovingkindness is greater than my grief. For I have experienced the depths of that emotion and God has delivered me from the part that leaves me feeling alone, insignificant, angry, questioning, worthless, empty, fearful...doubting. He made Tim's time here significant. Grace does that. Grace continues to do that. He keeps giving and showing me beauty in this ugliness of what we call death. For death in grace is only an earthly, flesh, temporary departure. Death in Christ is a home run straight to eternity. That is something so significant, one can't help but proclaim His goodness, scroll it out in the words and actions of my heart. 

Thank You Lord for your grace, your lovingkindness towards me. Thank You for the grace that saved my son and brought him to eternity where we will see each other again in Your Glory. Thank You for giving me such amazing moments that point to Your lovingkindness towards all who believe in You and seek You in their time of great need. With all my heart, I cannot thank You enough for Your gift of grace, an undeserved favor from You, the Holy One, my Creator and Giver of all things good. Help me Lord to also be a grace-giver in these times when Your lovingkindness is needed in so many dark places.  You are good, Amen.

                                                Your Grace Finds Me ~ Matt Reddman

Friday, February 24, 2017

Mind Full of TIME

Ecclesiastes 3:1 "There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven---."

What do people say about time?

"TIME flies when you're having fun."

"There is no TIME like the present."

"You are 'behind the TIMES' with that thinking."

TIME out, TIME served, crunch TIME.

TIME is money!

In the nick of TIME.

Save TIME.

TIME is of the essence...

It's only a matter of TIME.

What was that last one? ...Only a matter of TIME? Until what?

Solomon tells us, until your "appointed TIME, your event under heaven."


Time flies.Ten years have whizzed by since that day my husband walked through the corridor to find me exiting the chapel in that out of the way hospital--to meet me---broken heart to broken heart, my oldest friend on one side of him, my younger son on the other.

The words at the moment, time shattering and for my moments to come, timeless.

"He didn't make it...He died."

Time stands still.

Since that TIME, I've pursued with every beat of my own heart... to make TIME count,

Double TIME...Well actually... triple TIME, for God, Timmy and myself.


If you know me, you know I like things that symbolize, commemorate, honor; I'm a collector of keepsakes of TIME well spent.

This last Christmas, we purchased a faux Christmas tree--the first of any larger-sized, focal-point tree we've had since Tim passed away into God's Light, 10 years ago. We happened on it--the right TIME and place. The perfect skinny shape, size and price, it fit perfectly at the bottom of my staircase. After Christmas was over, New Year's Day past, all the decorations tucked away, there stood my cute,  snowy, glittery tree.

A Valentine's Day tree, I thought. It will commemorate that holiday and Tim's 10 years in Heaven--a good excuse to leave it up!  

So, I did just that, giving it and me...more TIME. After a few visits to the Dollar Tree (love that place), and a few things I've had over TIME, Timmy's Love Tree came together. For such a TIME as this, 10 years since his passing, a tree with roots of Love and branches that sparkle like Heaven shines, standing for the memory of our son in this anniversary month.


What does ten years feel like? Like it just happened?  Yes, some days. The TIMES I have spent with God in healing and listening and reading His Word are immeasurable. In one quick moment, I can hear from the Lord and be uplifted and inspired the whole day. In other TIMES, I miss him so much I feel it physically. God is with me in both situations. TIME marches on, and moves closer to my own homecoming, my own appointed TIME. The cliche, TIME heals, may just give distance, a distance one has learned control in, but I can testify that TIME spent seeking God is what truly brings healing.

So, I make TIME to give Him glory for all He bestows, lavishs on me,  to bring me comfort and insight through all this TIME.

I believe God is pleased with how I have used my TIME to get to know Him more intimately, in ministry, my story, to make Him known.


Life is TIME consuming, especially with all the ways we get caught up in,  to waste TIME. I am encouraged by scripture which tells me:

Psalm 90:12 "So teach us to number our days that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom."

Ephesians 1:9-10 "He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the TIMES, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the Earth, in Him." As a plan for the fullness of TIME, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth."

11 Corinthians 6:2  For He says, "At the acceptable TIME I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you. Behold now is the acceptable TIME; behold, now is the day of salvation." 

Father God, thank You for the TIME allotted to me to craft my writing skills and use them to give You glory. Help me Lord to fill my days, not with regrets but with anticipation of what You have in store for me. Thank You for my precious TIME with my son Timothy, even those really hard TIMES. Your will is good and perfect and I trust You in all things. Lord, for those whose days are numbered, (and that is every one of us), help us to draw closer to You and manage our TIME wisely, to include You in our day so that You can pour out Your blessings You have stored up for us. Lord, we do not know when our TIME is, nor do we know the appointed TIME of Your appearance again, but Lord, You ask only that we believe in Your earthly TIME as our Savior and Your Heavenly Time as our Father. Because we trust You, Your plans are good for our welfare and our future. Lord, thank You for the Eternal Time we will have with You in Heaven, for that is our Hope. Amen.

Better Is One Day ~ Kutless 

Timothy B. VanTilburg 
DOB 9-25-1980
Reached Heaven 2-27-2007 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Courage, Dear Heart #love4lexi

Psalm 73:26 "My flesh and my heart may fail, but my God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." 

A young teenage girl, the middle daughter of three lovely daughters from a local family, lies in a hospital bed, kept alive by a machine, awaiting a bittersweet miracle. She needs a heart transplant now. Her name is Lexi. Her favorite color is purple. She loves the Lord.


Everyone is thinking about hearts. It is February after all. #love4lexi

A community is praying for Lexi,for her family, for this miracle. #love4lexi 

Her classmate and local phenom basketball player, LaMelo Ball dedicated his 92 points scored in one game to her this week. That made national news. #love4lexi. 

As I walked onto my high school campus (work) this morning, the signs were everywhere. BULLDOGS SUPPORT LEXI, #LOVE4LEXI 

She attends the other high school (Chino Hills High) across the valley. 

Huge prayer circles formed on both her campus and ours. Students bow their heads and hold each others hands, crying out to God for one of their...our own. She is everyone's #love4lexi. 

A family waits and prays; sleepless, drained, anxious, hopeful, fearful, faithful, and loved, held up by strength from the God they know is good and loving as well as caring family, friends, neighbors, church body and strangers. 

...and I hear the words from many, because it is a fear of every parent to ever have to sit, pace, wait in the darkness of things, to watch their own son or daughter suffer, to know the odds, to place every ounce of their own heart, blood, soul and faith in their Heavenly Father and rely... out of default on the Holy Spirit to do your bidding because the numbness sets in, articulation is foggy at the least, adrenaline keeps our own breath too real and our thoughts and dreams... too intense. 

those words..."I can't imagine how (the family) they are feeling."  

And I don't answer that one, because this time... it is not about me. Let it always be about Love. 

What I do know is that this is a family who knows the Lord, wherein lies their hope. What I do know is that God is good and His will is Good and Perfect. If Lexi lives, His will is Good and Perfect, if Lexi does not, His will is Good and Perfect. God's plan is good and perfect. Lexi is a miracle in the making. Lexi's purpose is for God's glory. 

And so we pray for Lexi, her family and for our own hearts. #love4lexi. 

The world's heartbeat skips and flutters away from a Holy place of surrender, but one heartbeat struggling, makes us catch our breath and refocus outside our own body. One hand joins another, one ball is continually passed to another, and lives touch other lives and Lexi touches ours as we bow our heads and hearts to a sovereign, loving God. 

And if we tell one another that God is love, and if we SHOW one another that God is Love and if we hold onto one another and encourage each because God is Love and if we humble ourselves before Him and allow Him to Love us too, we can know that God is Love, that He is good as we pray for His will, pray in His will.  #love4lexi. 

It still hurts, because love hurts too. Jesus experienced all the emotion of love, the deepest of hurts so He can love us in the deepest, most perfect way and then heal our own failures by teaching us how to love like Him. Though some things remain a mystery, His love is the portion of our heart that sustains the hope within us and gives us that eternal perspective-- a love-light seen through the gaps of our own the broken places. 


Father God, we humbly come before you and ask for divine strength and healing for this young girl struggling to regain a heartbeat. We understand that one heart will be taken so that one can live. We pray for Your will in this. We ask for this family of faith, for your comfort and mercy in all the unknown days to come. May Lexi's life always be for Your glory and for our own reminder that our time is never promised but what IS promised...Your Love that is everlasting and Hope that heals. #love4lexi, #pray4lexi, Amen. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

A Passionate Life

Proverbs 4:23 "Watch over your heart with do diligence, (guard) for from it flow the springs of life."

♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡   Did you know it is Heart Health month?  ♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡  *

The brain is really the organ in charge of our thoughts and actions. Our heart, our life pumping, blood delivering hub, gets the romantic attachments, the icon shape, and sometimes the blame for when things happen--either for the good or not so good emotion- based actions. 

But really, that is, again, our thought processes, our decision making brain and all our input into it. 

I think the author of Proverbs is referring here to our passions--where our input comes from. 

Watch what you become passionate about. Be careful how much time is devoted to other things and not spent with God. (balance). What messages from the world are you listening to more intently than the Word of God? 

What are your priorities concerning your spiritual growth? 

To watch over something, to guard, indicates that there is an expectation that something may be lurking, may be ready to attack, may be wanting to steal away, slowly yet with intent, filter into our thinking and our passions. And so begins the dilution, the compromise, the passionless, unmarked, dimmed Christian life. The world bombards us with many ideologies, temptations, smart phone apps, social media, Super Bowl know. But God gives us all we need to guard against it. 

Sometimes, it is subtle-- all the busyness of everyone these days, yours truly included. 


A challenging end to January going into February, my writing and ministry partner has been hospitalized for almost 3 weeks now.  I've had to do some things without her. My heart and my brain hurt for my friend; and it is only human that feelings and thoughts build. It is in community, in strong friendships and in prayer where the Holy Spirit Commanding Guard stands ready to help us keep the beat going. Her faith and love for me--  heart medicine for encouragement and my strength. We soldier on to continue in our mission, a passion for story-telling and sharing within our community to discover and connect similar passions,  and just maybe, in our obedience, spark an eternal passion. God is so good. 

When we are overwhelmed with everything that is not of God, our life-giving, God reflecting spring just may begin to dry up, become bitter-tasting, and/or reflect a lot of other things, not the face of Christ. 

Christ is what gives our hearts life. His heart, his blood, his grace IS our life spring. 

So why wouldn't we want to guard that, cover it in prayer, protect it with accountability partners, bathe it in His Word and His truth? 

I know what I am passionate about. My family. I love them and I am loved and through our trials and our victories, our passion increases, our faith endures. I am passionate about keeping my son's memory alive in me and in others, for the hope of Heaven. The Word of God. It sustains me, oxygenates my blood and gives me life. Writing. I write for His glory. My friends. Like-minded, authentic, praying friends who want more of God and want to grow together, share His insights together. Creating in nature and art. To use the gifts He's given me and keep active, to see the beauty of His promises and know His grace when I seek Him and spend time being still, listening to His passionate, love-filled, guiding whispers, His wise leading. 

Oh, and then there are those butterflies. My heart's passion is for God and from it flows the life-giving passions that I pray reflect Him in all He gives me to do, to be in this world for His eternal Kingdom. That is worth guarding and protecting until the day He takes me Home.  ♡


Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us both a brain to think, to choose, to know, to reason with. Thank You for giving us a heart, our emotions, to feel love, pain, forgiveness and grace. With both of those, sin entered the world and my own life. But because of Your own plan, and Your own love, You--The Creator, the two are connected. Love and Wisdom from You are life-sustaining and eternity-giving. Without Your sacrifice,Your grace, worldly passions disappoint, end, change and/or keep us spinning on a hamster wheel with no hope, no eternal purpose. Thank You Lord, that You are a passionate God for us, so passionate, You gave Your only Son so that I can be full of purposeful passion for more of Your own heart and have a passion for others. Help me Lord to be the best reflection of that passion, even and especially when my own emotions are challenged and my mind is drifting. May You guard against my heart and my brain from receiving messages of doubt and fear, for they are not from You. How thankful I am to be a child of God because You chose to be passionate for me. Amen. 



Friday, January 20, 2017

For This Reason

Colossians 1:9-10 "For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understandings, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God..."

A second storm ended this afternoon as I drove home from the bank and waited to get some dinner. I listen to the news of the day and wondered about the storms to come... 

I know who I shelter under, who my foundation is truly built on, who promises JOY in the morning.

America inaugurated a new President today. I don't have to tell you that he is not well-liked by many, yet he became our choice in this democratic process. He is not a politician but a negotiator. He doesn't use political language that moves around the problem, but speaks and tweets unfiltered while sitting in the middle of a major traffic jam leading to the heart of the issues in this country. Many our prepared to block entrances and exits. I am on the overpass, asking God for the right direction. 

I pledge my allegiance to America, but I serve a King, the eternal King of Kings. As a citizen of His Kingdom, He asks us to pray for those in authority over us. 

And so I will continue to pray for our President. May God guide you, fill you with His knowledge, give you understanding, grace and compassion for all people, citizens of the U.S. or not. You, a billionaire businessman with all your assets can boast of a fruitful life, probably a whole lot of good works with your money, but now this country waits and hopes that the next 100 days will be unifying, not divisive, encouraging, not fearful, strong, not overbearing. 

The fruit the Lord talks about is the kind that quenches a thirst, that leaves seeds to plant hope for eternity, a harvest that feeds thousands spiritual food. Fruit that empowers  to change a generation to end the poverty of hopelessness and degradation. 

A President can do that, can inspire. 
Anyone who lays their hand, their eyes and heart on the pages of a Bible, Abraham Lincoln's or their grandmother's from another generation, can inspire. 

Lincoln's Bible 
Someone with a little orange New Testament given to them on a street corner, can inspire. 

If God so wills it in the pages of His Word and that Word is read and His servant is obedient, miracles can happen. And so we pray for this reason...

For this reason, President Trump; for this reason, my friend, 

For this reason, I read His Word so that I can be continually transformed and a fruit-bearing citizen of this earth, of this country, of my own holy-ground-moments as compared to eternity.  


I'm baking a cake right now. It's for a memorial service tomorrow for Rev. Harvey Boese, a servant of the Lord. Just a few months shy of 100 years of age, he faithfully attended my church with his wife and daughter and her husband for the last several years of his long life. I read his obituary in last Saturday's paper. Here is a part of it: 

Rev. Harvey Gilbert Boese, 99, a resident of Chino Hills for 18 years, died Jan. 6, 2017, at home

He was born April 9, 1917, in Bloomfield, Mont. He grew up on a farm near Avon, S.D., where he completed eighth grade. He attended a school for the speech-handicapped for one year. 
He graduated from St. Paul Bible Institute (now Crown College, Minn.) in 1941. He received his bachelor of arts and bachelor of divinity degrees from Los Angeles Baptist Theological Seminary in 1943. He attended Mission Training Institute (now Nyack College, N.Y.) in 1944 and later attended Fuller School of World Missions. He earned his GED in 1975 at age 58.
He married Grace Chadderdon on June 15, 1944.
He was a Christian & Missionary Alliance missionary to Thailand for 28 years. He was pastor of Baldwin Park Alliance Church for five years. He provided translation services and pastoral care for Asian refugees for 11 years.
He lived in Chino Hills since 1998, when he retired from pastoral ministries.
Someone prayed for Harvey Boese. He leaves a legacy that impacted the world for hope and the Truth. He never stopped attending church. He wanted and knew he needed the fellowship and the "knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understandings."

I know without a doubt, that the Lord is pleased with Rev. Harvey Boese. 

I know the Lord is pleased with me...because...because...
because I write? 
because I baked a cake?
because I told a woman she dropped her money in a puddle in the pouring rain (didn't notice it) today at the bank? 

None of the above. The Lord is pleased with us when we pray, when we take the time to humble ourselves, empty ourselves and give of ourselves to pray for others, even those who may or may not be someone we respect, or someone who has hurt us...or someone we fear. The Lord is pleased when our heart's desire is to be in His  will, not ours. It's never about our own goodness. It is because He is good. 

I am sure Harvey had a lot of stories of people who prayed for him, and I am sure at the service tomorrow, there will be stories from people who Harvey prayed for. 

For this reason, because God ordains it, I pray: God Bless you President Trump, God Bless America. God DID bless you Rev. Harvey Boese. God, bless his family, his dear wife Grace and his children and grandchildren. Give them the comfort and the legacy of faith to carry on. May You continue to use the seeds of the fruit planted for Your Harvest. I ask you Lord, for those souls who say they belong to You, to be obedient to Your Word and not their own agenda, to have words of love, especially for those who refuse, do not or cannot see You in the diluting of Your Truth in our country. Thank you Lord for Your Kingdom which will rule eternally and for the privilege to be a part of Your plan. Amen. 

Let us pray for this country, against division, hatred and violence--for unity and understanding, to work together, despite our own bias and opinions, for the greater Good. For so many reasons Lord, we pray, but if only for one reason Lord, that we might bring You glory and be privileged to partner with You to make Your truth known. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

One-On-One Time

Luke 5:3-4 And He got into one of the boats which was Simon’s, (Peter) and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the multitudes from the boat. And when He had finished speaking He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let your nets down for a catch.”

Have you shared a “boat ride” with the Lord?  Has he stepped into your very personal space and asked you to sit beside Him? Or have you chosen to stay on the shore, with the crowd where you find safety, obscurity, listen from afar with no commitments, learn enough lyrics from the songs to be convincing to some, maybe to yourself?  

All of us are a part of some crowd, followers, interested onlookers. At some point though, when does it become…when do you allow the Lord to have that one-on-one time with you, when do you schedule that appointment and begin the dialogue, the one about removing you from the crowd, and finding where your true purpose and gift can be and should be applied? You've kind of always wanted to know...don't you? -- Your story must...needs to make sense. 

Staying on the shore, lost in the crowd: it’s like reading everybody’s Facebook posts, but remaining anonymous. You took information in, but never gave back. 

The crowd pressed in and Jesus saw Peter.  He saw the whole picture of what was to be with this disciple, both the good and the bad times. Did he think past to the time of betrayal and then linger on whether to pursue him based on what He knew?

No, Jesus wanted to give Peter a plan, a greater purpose, offer up the Hope of reconciliation. He knew Peter’s spontaneous will, his fears, his self-centered nature. Don’t we all have that in our core—or something similar? Yep, we do.  But Jesus, being God, focused on the good, because God is good. He saw Himself manifested, glorified in Peter. Peter felt His love, was inspired already by His teaching…and now he wanted more and Jesus offered it in one-on-one time with Him. 

Jesus climbed into the boat and continued his preaching from there to the crowd on the beach. But he called out to Simon Peter to join him. Peter received teaching away from the beach, from the crowd, one-on-one, in a boat rocking back and forth in the waves, the waves and tides of life decisions and choices. Then Jesus told Peter to go deeper… and in Peter’s obedience, he was blessed and he grew in his belief.  

When Jesus went to the Cross, He got into your boat. He calls each and everyone to come, sit beside Him and listen. Where are you? Did you jump out only to find yourself dog paddling, even drowning? Are you still standing on the beach building castles that soon will be washed away?

The Lord has been calling out to you, yes, you in the crowd of this world, surrounded by your bantering burdens, your definitive doubts, the undulating unbelief, and the angry acid always rising.  I pray you are not lost in the crowd but fine tune your ears and soul with prayer to hear His voice calling out to you. The crowd hears, but does not listen.

I know you hear His voice, because you so recognize it;  it is the grace...that love. 

Climb in, pull anchor, trust Him and go deeper. You’ll find beauty in the journey and nets full of courage, strength, wisdom, and growing faith.  Step out for the first time, or again and refresh yourself in His Word.

I’ll say it again, Trust Him. He wants to give you a gift of discovery of yourself, who you can be in Him. Deeper is not somewhere over your head. Deeper is where you will grow, surrounded by buoys of encouragement in His Word, in fellowship and a net full of purpose in each new dawn.

Lord, going deeper takes courage. When you call us to salvation, we are forgiven, entering again into a loving relationship with the Father and receiving the Holy Spirit. Lord, in Your Word, you call us to continue to seek You and Your will. You give us gifts in which to help and encourage one another. Going deeper Lord is like pursing a Master’s degree, a Ph.D., obtaining the wisdom so we can serve others well, bear fruit, and shine Your Light. You Lord, paid all the tuition with your blood shed on the cross. In that, my knees hit the sand on the beach in humble thanksgiving. Now Lord, grant strength to conquer fears and step into the boat when you call us to one-on- one time with You.  A deeper faith immerses us in Your grace and that is a perfect place to be. Amen.